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Report: Tampa Bay Home To Some Of The Worst Water Polluters In Florida

Wikipedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A new report shows Florida has some of the worst water polluters in the country. And some of the worst violators are in the Tampa Bay area.

The report from Environment Florida shows that despite our sparse manufacturing base, the state ranks 10th in the nation for industries violating the Clean Water Act. The advocacy group, using federal data, shows in the year and a half following January 2016, industries fouled the state's waters 270 times. Among the violators were corporations such as Tampa Electric, Coca-Cola, Mosaic and Siesta Key Utilities Authority.

Jennifer Rubiello, state director of Environment Florida, decried the current regulatory climate in Washington, D.C.

"The EPA conducted fewer inspections of major industrial facilities over the first year of the Trump Administration than at any point since at least 2012," she said.

And Rubiello says the average penalty issued by the EPA was lower in 2017 than any year since 2011.

"All of Florida's waterways should be clean for swimming, drinking water and wildlife, but industrial polluters are still dumping chemicals that threaten our health and environment," she said. "And they aren't being held accountable. So we need our government officials to be redoubling their efforts to protect Florida's waters."

Waterways affected by the spills include Tampa Bay, Clearwater Harbor, the Alafia River, and the Grand Canal on Siesta Key.


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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.